Friday, June 29, 2012

Fifth and Carroll

It's surprising that this little pocket of signs at Fifth & Carroll is still around, long after the businesses closed.

And right across the street, the old liquor sign at Rita Knox Realty.

15th Street, Thursday Evening

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Demolition Coming for Fourth Avenue's Church of the Redeemer (Brownstoner)
Last Call of O'Connors ... at Freddy's (Freddy's Bar)
Sexual Assault Witness Arrested as Payback? (Brooklyn Paper)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Along Fifth

Today I took the N from Union Square to 36th Street, and came back home along Fifth.  Just to be walking in the middle of a weekday, with an aimless heart and the streets quiet, is good enough vacation for me.  Here are a few things I noticed, not, alas, in the order I saw them.

The Bad:
Five blocks down from the Subway at Fifth & 8th, another will soon open.

The Good:
After being closed down by the DOH earlier this month,  The Guerrero Food Center's kitchen, at Fifth and 23rd, is back up and running. This is one of my favorite places to eat on Fifth, & I was worried the tacos would be gone forever.  A Grade Pending sign will not keep me from the wonders of the el pastor.

The Ridiculous:

 I Want a Breast Pump (I don't) opened last year, but somehow or other I've managed to ignore it. Today however, its brazen and creepy business name hit me with full force. Begone, miscreant, or at least adopt a more subtle sign!  Its location on Fifth is surreal though (or simply sad, depending on your mood). Sandwiched between Torres Tattoo shop, a psychic's parlor, and the Ortiz Botanica, it strikes an incongruous note.

The Dashing:
In the Ortiz Botanica, this swashbuckling figure, next to a potion for dealing with one's nearest & (not necessarily) dearest.

I still love this part of Fifth.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Atlantic Av - Barclays Ctr

The Barclays Center fills out, and the Atlantic-Pacific subway station loses an ocean.  Despite the reality of its shabby makeover, whispering the station's name still gave you a Woodie Guthrie feeling of national pride.  Now, instead of wheeling gulls, fishing trawlers, & the spread of continent and seas, you dream only of bankers, real estate, and concrete.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Saturday Afternoon: 57th & First

The Drugs sign peeks over the top of a more recent awning, and the vertical Pharmacy sign (nothing fancy) is still up, but the Pollock-Bailey pharmacy is empty.  At the store entrance, you can see a nice reminder of earlier days: a gilt-lettered sign with the old EL (Eldorado) /PL (Plaza) phone exchanges.  Marilyn Monroe had an account here in the late 50s.  Purchases included eye-liner, Ace bandages, and supplies of Amytal and Equanil.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

First Day of Vacation (from Ruby's in the Rain)

And to glance with an eye or show a bean in its pod confounds the learning of all times...
 And there is no object so soft but it makes a hub for the wheeled universe ...
                                                                                             (Leaves of Grass - 1855 edition)

Not even the nasty new sign outside (bleh, I don't even want to show it here) & some other inside "upgrades"could spoil the joy of spending a weekday afternoon jostled inside Ruby's, in a crowd of loud, damp & happy intoxication, as the sky darkened, lightning flashed,and rain sent the boardwalk strollers fleeing for cover.

Watch Her Dance to the End of Love

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


A little piece of Coney Island poetry disappears & the new Ruby's sign emerges (Brooklyn Paper)

... Ruby’s owner Michael Sarrel said he was required to make the change as part of his agreement with Central Amusements, the company overseeing the city’s plan to turn the amusement district into an upscale, year-round, tourist destination.

Post No

Monday, June 18, 2012


I don't know just how famous Jimbo's Hamburger Place is, or if it has any connection to the Jimbo's Hamburger Palace diners in Harlem.  I don't know how good the burgers are.  The eggs, however, are great.  I had perfectly poached eggs - a simple menu item easily screwed up - with lightly toasted bread.  There was a deft hand at work here.  The inside of Jimbo's isn't special to look at: a nondescript but satisfying counter to sit at, and several small tables against the wall.  Service is brisk & efficient.  It's a useful go-to, low-budget spot for this part of town.

Jimbo's Hamburger Place
991 First Avenue


In the Churchyard in the Evening (Walkers in the City)

O' Connor's closed for "complete renovation" (HPS)
Depressing, depressing news.

This weekend's Folsom Street East festival (Jeremiah's Vanishing New York)

Man and cat at the EV Mystery Lot (The Gog Log)

6th Street

Thursday, June 14, 2012

76 Liquors (First & 76th)

I love the signs here. That 76 Liquors punch, & best, the poetry of Open 'Til Midnight, up big and bold, not once, but twice. The signs here sing. All wrapped up in yellow, red & black, with some neon to boot. What's not to love?


Yesterday, the house on 7th with the Baited Area deathwatch sign.  Today, these pop up next door, along with some large rat traps.  How do you keep your nerve?  I expended a little anxiety by trapping my own vermin.  Not rats.  They haven't been around this particular stretch so much, except when they (the city, not the rats) dug up the whole street for sewer repairs a good fifteen years back. But let's not think of excavation...  No, not rats, but slugs, which seem to have found nirvana in the damp back yard.  Someone recommended beer as a good bait, & I thought this was just another old wives' tale.  But no!  Last night I put out two containers of Bud, and by morning twenty or more of the little bastards had met their end, & lay in their beery, drunken graves.  This was a repulsive sight.  I replaced the beer later today & this afternoon saw an especially large slug perched on the rim of a dish, dipping down for a long, serious drink.  I took a picture, but I think it's too upsetting to show here.  By evening, the poor sot was a goner.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Oh look.  An attached frame demolition is in order at 7th Street & Fifth. The Baited-Area sign is a giveaway. The last recorded sale price was $920,000.  This is one of those properties with a fairly large second building (a big shed?) at the back, though it's hard to see it clearly from the satellite view.
As expected, on the DOB site:
This job is not subject to the Department's Development Challenge Process.
Pity the house next door, and wonder what the owner, Media Nova, has in mind. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Emptying Out at Fifth & 6th

Closure or renovation?  This place opened in 2008.

Second Avenue Lady

I was up around 96th Street over the weekend.  What misery for businesses trapped behind the barricades & dirt of Second Avenue subway work.  In the middle of all this, atop a pole, a lady with jewels.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


You Can't Go Home Again (Walkers in the City)

Inspiring Confidence

Park Slope Brownstone Forces Tenant Evacuation (DNA info)

"We did not vacate the building," a DOB spokeswoman said. "However, department inspectors did find issues with the building’s rear fa├žade and as a safety precaution vacated the building’s rear yard.
 "The Department also issued a violation to the building owner, William Oldham, for failing to maintain the building."

Oldham said he planned to erect scaffolding at the building in the event of a collapse.

Wouldn't it be a bit late by then?

Peter's (Scandinavian) Hair-Styling

I was intrigued by the store's billing.  When I looked through the window, I could see a couple of snowy scenes on the wall.  It was a nice-looking place, with a front waiting area partitioned off from the barber chairs.  I tried to be surreptitious, but an elderly figure inside caught sight of me and came to the door.  I'm always expecting people to be irked by my nosiness, but this was one of those happy occasions where I served as diversion on a slow afternoon.  Nat (his name embroidered on his jacket) ushered me in, sat me down, and told me to hang around a while until the Scandinavian (Peter himself, "from Finlandia") came back from an errand.  He would be sure to let me take a picture or two, but it would be best to wait. 
Nat is really Ignazio, and he came here from Catania forty years ago. He worked on Third for twenty years, and then moved east.  He lives around Bay Parkway, and comes in to work on the train.  Ignazio will be eighty-five on June 18th.  When I asked him how business was these days he made a a sour face, but seemed resigned to the situation.   When I asked what made Scandinavian haircuts special he smoothed his thinning hair with a grin & suggested the difference was minimal. It seemed a trifling topic to him, so we got to discussing other things.  Kids, Jesuits, Italy, Coney Island, customers that tipped well, his start in barbering at age fourteen.  He was flirty and chatty, and a lot of fun to hang out with.
When Peter finally returned, he looked a bit worn down by the sight of the two of us sitting there, gossiping, but had no problem with me staying around for a bit.  "He likes attention, he's such a baby," he muttered indulgently, and disappeared somewhere in back of the shop.  Ignazio suggested a shot or two in his chair, and, seated, began to strike formidably grave poses.  I coaxed at best a half-smile.
I wish I'd stayed longer, and I wish I'd taken more pictures of the shop itself, but I was a little worried that Peter might get sick of our larking about.  It seemed frivolous, but there was no-one waiting around for a trim.  Still, it was time to go. I'm sending this photo to Ignazio, along with a couple of others, a card, & birthday wishes.  I suggest you visit, go get a haircut (males only) & enjoy the stories.  You might get another take on Scandinavian styling, and I'm sure there are wintry Finnish tales to be told.  This is a grand barbershop, & Ignazio made my day.

Peter's Hair-Styling

1129 First Avenue (64th/65th)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

"Years later I read that the great critic Ruskin wrote that composition is the arrangement of unequal things.  Which means it's for the composer to determine what's equal to what, and what matters more and what can be set to the side of life's hurtling passage onward."
                                                                                      from Canada - Richard Ford

Off Vernon Boulevard

Thursday, June 7, 2012


The heartless world of nouveau Brooklyn homeowners.  Comments say it all. As a frame house dweller contemplating next-door demolition, I'm not entirely unbiased. 
And if you're not convinced by that one, check out some of the responses to the imminent eviction of Arthur Woods from the Broken Angel Building:

Rain on the Roof

Wednesday evening.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Around & About

This house on 11th Street (5th & 6th) has been undergoing sporadic bouts of renovation for years, but these days work seems especially slow.  I haven't seen any activity for months.  Back in the eighteenth century, the land it stands on was part of a farm owned by Cornelius Van Brunt.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


I'm beat. A hectic weekend (including an excellent, four-borough Saturday) & the gruelling last laps of the school year.  On early Sunday evening I was stuck on the Williamsburg Bridge, & the sky had that sharp, radiant, after-rain light.  Stationary, for once, with the purest of views & no camera. Hah.  So instead of piercing beauty (well, I can try) it's mannequin time once more.  Take it away, ladies of the Upper West Side.